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AICN COMICS Q&@: Russ Sheath talks to Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins about THINK TANK’s past, present, and future!

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Q’s by Russ Sheath!

@’s by THINK TANK Writer Matt Hawkins!!!

Russ Sheath here and I recently had the pleasure to sit down and chat with the endlessly enthusiastic and tireless Matt Hawkins from Top Cow. Not only is Matt the President of Top Cow but also the writer behind THINK TANK from the publishers Minotaur Press imprint. The story of scientist and genius David Loren a man who puts his talents to use at the behest of a military run ‘Think Tank’. Happy in his element - David soon realizes that the technology he is creating is for anything but the betterment of mankind. Faced with an attack of conscience, how will Loren’s military task masters react when he decides that he wants out, and will his smarts be enough to save him.

There’s a lot to enjoy about THINK TANK - Matt Hawkins crafts a character, in David Loren, who is utterly obnoxious and arrogant, but entirely likable and is punctuated with meticulous research as Hawkins presents readers with a world on the cutting edge of technology with Loren is its master....or so he thinks. With art by the incredibly talented Rashan Ekedal, Volumes 1 and 2 were well received by readers and I urge you to check out THINK TANK, a departure from Top Cow’s trademark books such as THE DARKNESS and WITCHBLADE. I spoke to writer Matt Hawkins about the recently released THINK TANK Volume 2 and his plans for Volume 3.

RUSS SHEATH (RS): Matt, thanks for talking to AICN COMICS. David has gone through quite the evolution from Volume 1 to how we find him at the beginning of Volume 2. Would it be fair to say that his conscience is finally getting the better of him?

MATT HAWKINS (MH): That is a fair statement. I've alluded to an epiphany he had while reading one of the manuals of a weapon. But it's fairer to say it was a gradual transition where he started to realize what he was doing and how it was affecting people. Doing a job well, being praised and handsomely remunerated can cloud anyone's judgment. David is a smart guy, but he started doing this when he was just a kid. He gets obsessed with how to do things and if it's possible...and not until recently starting to think about whether he should or shouldn't.

RS: You have a way of crafting characters that are incredibly multi-facited. For example Colonel Harrison could well be the archetypal military man readers love to hate, but in this series we see a different side to him. Is that important to you - to challenge those archetypes?

MH: Archetypes work as a shorthand for storytelling, you can say cop or dirty cop and a lot of information you'd need to know is already in your head which allows you to cheat a bit with the story. I've never liked one dimensional characters and have never liked villains that are just evil for no reason. Whereas an occasional sociopath can be fun, most villains don't see themselves as villains. I've had to sit across the table and lay people off in my career, in that scenario I could be viewed as the villain but I never saw myself that way. It's all a matter of perspective.

RS: The amount of research you put into each issue is remarkable, have you ever surprised yourself with what you have found out?

MH: I get surprised with the research almost every time. I always find something that just leaves me speechless and wanting to learn more. If I could get paid just to do the research I'd do it, heh.

RS: THINK TANK, from the outset has always been a book where its protagonists have and are subject to 'global' consequences, in volume 2 this really comes to the fore. Was it always your intention to incorporate the political conspiracy elements into the book or is that just how the story evolved?

MH: The first arc was intentionally kept sort of contained. Main reason is I never knew if we'd get past those initial 4 issues. Since it worked and we were able to continue the story I wanted to open it up. Everything the US does has global consequences. People hate politics but it governs the world around us and its tendrils affect everything we do. I find most politicians distasteful on both sides of the aisle, but I understand for the most part what they're trying to do and why.

RS: When writing, how far ahead do you plot?

MH: Loosely 3-4 issues, in depth only an issue. I have the arcs mapped out in my head but I don't scene by scene break them down until Rahsan catches up to me. This works out well too since I'm able to input the most recent information I learn from the news or the science journals and can incorporate elements.

RS: You keep the technology in the book, in most cases, fairly grounded - yet in a couple of places (use of 3D printers for example) you have had to push the boundaries, was that tough given that the world we experience in Think Tank is one that readers can relate to?

MH: The military and advanced applications of a lot of this technology is classified. When I do stuff like that it's a "guess" as to where the technology is headed and maybe what is available that we just don't know about yet. I've not done anything that I don't think IS possible and if not currently doable will most definitely be doable in the near term.

RS: What are your own favorite THINK TANK moments in Vol 2?

MH: I love the stuff with David and the dog. I know it's not terribly important to the overall story but it humanizes him and when he realizes he's being a douche to the lil dog it makes me like him more. The tech and science stuff is fun but I really dig these characters and helping shape their realities is a lot of fun.

RS: Where do we find David going into Volume 3 and can you tease how that arc will evolve or what you have in store for readers?

MH: Volume 3 takes place in Taiwan and China and the shit is really going to hit the fan! We're talking WWIII almost =)

RS: Matt, thanks for taking the time to talk to AICN Comics. It's been a pleasure.

MH: Thank you!

RS: THINK TANK Volumes 1 and 2 are available from all good comic and book sellers. You can download Issue 1 of THINK TANK Volume 1 for free right here.

Follow Top Cow here: @topcow and Matt Hawkins here @topcowmatt on Twitter!

You can follow Russ Sheath's blog Russwords here and @russellsheath on Twitter here.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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